10/30/2004, 00.00
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China's film industry has great potential, Italian film star Pasotti says

by Dario Salvi

Rome (AsiaNews) – "The Chinese market is strategic because it offers a potential audience of more than a billion people. We should not also forget other Asia countries like Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines," this according to well-known Italian actor Giorgio Pasotti, who started his film career right in China.

Not yet twenty-something, Pasotti moved to the China to better learn wushu martial arts in Chinese Buddhist tradition. Hired by a Hong Kong movie producer, he made his film debut in former British colony. Popular Chinese movies, Giorgio Pasotti explains, are rooted in martial traditions. According to him, "Chinese movies typically range from martial arts to whodunit but they always revolve around fights." But "now producers are trying to improve their quality in order to export them the way Italy was able to sell Italian-style romantic comedies and spaghetti-westerns".

Bruce Lee is an iconic figure in kung-fu movies. Will we see an invasion of Lee-like wannabes?

Bruce Lee was one of a kind. He was so unique that he created his own movie genre that marked an era. Things are different today. There are very few personalities à la Lee. I can only think of one: Li Lian Jie. My point is that a new movie genre tied to martial arts is emerging. Even someone like Zhang Yimou, who does not normally shoot format movies, has tried to incorporate elements of this new martial arts genre adapting them to his sensibilities. And here, I am referring to Hero, a movie, I must admit, that has great qualities with breathtaking shots.

Do the Chinese like movies?

They love European movies. Oriental philosophy is fascinating because it is deep, tied to nature and yet naive. In this sense, Chinese culture has always welcomed the most commercially-oriented Western productions. Still, the Chinese love their own movies, their own film traditions above all.

As an actor you got your feet wet for the first time in China. What are your memories of that experience?

Oh, it was great! Try to imagine a 20-year-old lad who is suddenly making martial arts movies in China. Those first moments were awesome and fun. I went through them like a sleepwalker, not knowing what I really wanted to do or what I would become. At that time, I didn't think that making movies would become a career. It was almost like playing some wonderfully fascinating game.

What is the relationship between actor and spectator?

First of all, let us be clear, when we talk about Chinese movies we mean those with the 'Made in Hong Kong" label. That's where movies are made, where the most prestigious productions are shot. The Hong Kong star system is like that of the West because Hong Kong is steeped in western culture and symbols. It is a reality completely different from the vast countryside of Mainland China.

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